Jacksonville, Jackson County, Oregon, USA by Richard Handler

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Picture Story

This image from October 25th, 2020 was conceptualized at my seat at our dining table. Through the window I was viewing a tall over mature clump of grass in the rock garden on the south side of our home, watching the grass wave in the wind, backlit by morning sun.

I first tried my Laowa 15mm Zero-D thinking I'd utilize the extreme close focusing of this lens, but as I saw sun stars appearing when wide grass blades moved across the sun, I returned with my 21mm Zeiss Loxia which produces precise 10 point stars. Fast shutter and multiple frames were used and the one with the most pleasing star selected. I deliberately underexposed for my subject, the backlit grass, in order to preserve the luscious blue of the background sky.

Processing in LrC involved cropping off intruding tree limbs and formatting to 4x5 portrait shape. Exposure of backlit grass was recovered, white balance adjusted. I think this was also my first use of the new Color Grading sliders.

In Ps the spot healing tool was meticulously use, on a Wacom pad, to remove electric lines and fiber optic cable maring background sky.

Finally a pass through Topaz DeNoise was used to smooth recovered shadows in the grass and sharpen the seed crowns.

Now, the sun star! It came out very larger, larger than I wished. Three factors contribute. First I used a tiny aperture to get greatest DOF in the grass. Since the grass was moving in wind, there was no possibility of using a mid sized aperture for a focus stack. Second, the sun was very bright (not my fault). Third, in cropping the size of the sun star became larger relative to the total area of the image. So the star is what it is, and without any star the image would be too ordinary.

Most important is this image meets my criteria for fun and challenge in capture, fun and challenge in processing, and a degree of creativity I endeavor to develop.


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